A few years ago while talking with a gallery owner (who represented my work at the time), she told me that, "Clients don't care about what a painting means, they just want it to be beautiful."
Now, without a doubt she knew her clients well, as she made a small fortune selling art. However, I wanted to give her, and also my, clients more credit. Sure, you do want the art to have beauty. After all, it is something that *hopefully* will be hung where someone sees it every day. Personally the art that I own and make I find beautiful, and that brings me joy to be surrounded by beautiful things. As designer Leanne Ford says, " I feel that when you love your home, you are happier in life, and you can leave your house happier and spread that around and that domino effect is a special thing."
And I couldn't agree with Leanne more. However, and maybe this is all that graduate school art theory coming into play, I want more than beauty for more art. I want it to have soul (another concept Leanne and I agree on) . I want it to be a little more than what meets the eye.
Think of it like when you meet a physically beautiful person. You can appreciate their physical beauty for what it is. Admire them for that quality. Though if you get to know them and realize he or she is a good person as well? Then they become even more beautiful to you-- inside and out.
That's what I'm going for with my art. Beauty seen immediately, and the meaning behind it, [whether it's a feeling, reminder of a special place, person or time, or in the case of my latest work, symbolizing the challenges life presents us makes us into the people we are today] love it even more.
So what do all of these lines mean? They seem like tally marks don't they? I've been using these lines in my painting for years... it started in 2020, and has continued since. For most of us during that time I was holding on to anything positive. I started using these tick marks to count what I was thankful for... count my blessings if you will.
Then last month I decided to make the marks the focus, instead of just weaving them into the composition. And I wanted to shift what I was counting too. I started thinking about what makes us. Ed (my husband) and I talk a lot about how the good things don't come easy. We've personally had a lot of hard things thrown at us the past year, which is never fun but it's also strengthened our relationship and shifted our perspective. It reminded me of this quote, which funny enough hung in my bedroom in high school, found in a Nike ad:
"All your life you are told the things you cannot do. All your life they will say you’re not good enough or strong enough or talented enough; they will say you’re the wrong height or the wrong weight or the wrong type to play this or be this or achieve this. THEY WILL TELL YOU NO, a thousand times no, until all the no’s become meaningless. All your life they will tell you no, quite firmly and very quickly. AND YOU WILL TELL THEM YES."
So I thought, I'm going to paint the no's. I'm going to line them all up... and make them beautiful. All the challenges. All the doors shut in my face. All the unanswered prayers. All the no's that in hindsight were really the yes's to my future self. What made me, me. And I'm going to make it into one giant YES of a painting.
I'll leave it up to you: You can enjoy if for the simple beauty of repetition, soft palette, and depth of texture. And you can enjoy it for the symbolization of your own journey-- the no's you've received, and the continued YES you still give your life.
Keep reading more about my inspiration and process in my other posts, here.